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Pan-Asian Railway

Pan-Asian Railway Network is part of 80,900-km total in length Trans-Asian Railway Network, initiative of UNESCAP in 1992 when it launched the Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development project. An agreement signed in 2006 by 17 Asian nations as part of UNESCAP effort to build a transcontinental railway network between Europe and Pacific ports in China. Pan-Asian Railway Network is also known as Kunming–Singapore Rail Link.

*  UNESCAP – United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
* Pan-Asian Railway Network also known as Pan Asia Railway Network

** Trans-Asian Railway was initially proposed in the 1950s, with the objective of providing a continuous 14,080 km rail link between Singapore and Istanbul, Turkey, with possible further connections to Europe and Africa.
** A big challenge is the differences in rail gauge across Eurasia.  Four different major rail gauges exist across the continent: most of Europe, as well as Turkey, Iran, China, and the Koreas use the 1,435 mm gauge, known as Standard gauge; Russia, and the former Soviet republics use a 1,520 mm gauge; Finland uses a 1,524 mm gauge; the railways in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka use the 1,676 mm gauge, known as Indian gauge; and most of Southeast Asia has 1,000 mm meter gauge.

Kunming – Singapore Rail Link Project

Kunming Singapore Rail Link Project consists of 3 routes, namely

  • Central Route:
    • Kunming – Yuxi – Mohan – Vientiane – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore
  • Western Route:
    • Kunming – Dali – Baoshan – Ruili – Yangon – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore
  • Eastern Route:
    • Kunming – Yuxi – Mengzi – Hekou – Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore

Pan-Asian Railway Network is also one of the 6 Economic Corridors under Belt and Road Initiative – BRI, called China-Indochina Peninsula Corridor. Which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the intent to enhance connectivity by means of transport infrastructure development.

Opening of Cambodia Railroad Puts Pan-Asian Railway On Track

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 OCTOBER, 2010: The first segment of a new international standard railroad, co-financed by international donors including Malaysia, officially opened in Cambodia today, a major step towards the creation of a long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing US$84 million in support of the reconstruction and repair of 650 kilometers (404 miles) of rail stretching from Cambodia’s border with Thailand, through the capital city of Phnom Penh, and southward to Sihanoukville, the country’s main seaport.

Australia provided the additional US$21.5 million while Malaysia contributed 106 km (66 miles) of track worth US$2.8 million in support of the US$141 million project.

ADB said in a statement today that Cambodia allocated US$20.3 million for the rail project while the other co-financiers include the OPEC Fund for International Development with US$13 million.

Freight service has commenced along a 120km (75 mile) stretch of rail between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border. The entire rail line is scheduled to be operational by 2013.

“We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland,” said Kunio Senga, director-general of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

“This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has finally taken a big step towards becoming a reality.”

Decades of conflict have left Cambodia’s railroad in serious disrepair, with rail traffic slowly declining to a trickle.

In some parts of the country, homemade lorries – simple, makeshift bamboo platforms powered by water-pump motors – are the main form of rail transport along the antiquated tracks.

Cambodia’s less developed transportation network and the country’s higher transportation costs result in higher prices for imported and locally-made goods compared to neighboring countries.

ADB said the new railway would help lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families relied on for sustenance.

“This new railroad represents another important step for Cambodia in overcoming its legacy of conflict,” said Senga. “With better infrastructure and closer economic ties with its neighbors, Cambodians are enjoying a peace dividend more than ever before.”

Once Cambodia’s new railroad is ready, only one link, between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will remain before a Pan-Asian railway is complete.

Cambodia and Vietnam have already signed an agreement to link their railways, and China is supporting a design study on a rail link from Phnom Penh to Loc Ninh, Vietnam.

The railway rehabilitation project is a vital component of the Greater Mekong Subregion’s southern economic corridor – linking Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – and is a key component of Asean’s Singapore-Kunming Rail Link Project.

Toll Holdings, an Australian company, has been awarded a 30-year contract to operate and maintain the rehabilitated railway system.

– Bernama – 22 October 2010

Trans-Asian Railway Network

Proposed Pan-Asian Railway Network